Tanked! Revaluing Feral Combat Talents in Beta Build 8926

Posted by in Feral, WotLK

As it seems that nearly everyone I know has now received a beta key after the last wave of invitations, it only seems appropriate that I readdress Feral Combat talents in WotLK. After teleporting back and forth from Valiance Keep to Moonglade, I’ve finally settled on a build that I feel provides the most security and the best opportunity for bear threat generation—at least, for now.

I’m still a little confused as to where the real differentiation between bears and cats lies; while there are talents geared specifically for tanks (Natural Reaction, Protector of the Pack, etc.), there still aren’t any new talents for cats. King of the Jungle? Maybe, because I’d argue that the bonus use effect of Tiger’s Fury is much more useful than bonus use effect of Enrage. Rend and Tear superficially looks like a talent geared more toward cats, but since when has Ferocious Bite been useful for anything beyond leveling?

As such, I feel that you can currently utilize one build for tanking and moderate DPSing. The pictured talent build is essentially what I’d like to be using at 80. All PH NYI (place holder, not yet implemented) talents are now “live” on beta, and it’s pertinent to note that the talent “Mother Bear” has been renamed to the slightly less Disney “Protector of the Pack”. Talent choices that I felt warranted a discussion or at least mentions have been highlighted in red squares. Moving from top to bottom, left to right:

I’m still amazed that this talent is lurking in the Restoration tree. While many talent choices in the Feral Combat tree augment specific feral abilities under certain circumstances, Naturalist simply boosts damage by 10% in all forms—no strings attached. More damage landing means threat generated by your bear, and you have the added (albeit largely unnecessary) bonus of a talented-down Healing Touch. Jawesome.

Shredding Attacks
Note that I left this staple talent out in the final round. This is a key talent that I’d make a point in taking if I was planning solely on DPSing, and even though it also reduces the Rage cost of Lacerate, I have thus far never found myself in a Rage-starved-situation where I ended up wishing I’d taken it. I would much rather drop two points into Savage Fury and guarantee myself an additional 20% damage caused by our two largest threat multipliers, Maul and Mangle (in Bear).

Protector of the Pack
I’d like to reiterate that the old placeholder talent “Mother Bear” has been renamed to “Protector of the Pack”. While I’m still not thrilled at the damage reduction based on party members, you can’t dispute that a 12-15% overall damage reduction is a huge boon to Bear’s who normally have no way to mitigate spell damage, and who will, in the expansion, have far less armor than we’re used to. Couple the 12-15% damage reduction with a 60% Dire Bear damage increase, and you has absolutely no excuse to not take this talent.

Predatory Instincts & Rend and Tear
I originally wasn’t sure if the 10% base Maul damage bonus from Rend and Tear would win out over a 10% base damage bonus from all critical strikes. I realize at first glance that it seems like common sense: yes, having a critical strike damage multiplier for all attacks is fabulous and much better than augmenting one ability (as with Rend and Tear). The idea, however, was that the bonus from Predatory Instincts relied on a Critical Strike occurring, and that Rend and Tear’s additional 10% damage added to Maul (on bleeding targets) was a constant. In Beta, Maul really is where we start seeing some huge numbers and it plays a far more integral role in a normal tanking rotation than it used to. For now, however, I’m sticking to Predatory Instincts and also finding comfort in the 15% chance to avoid area effects.

Infected Wounds
I wasn’t initially sold on this talent. There was a lot of speculation regarding whether or not it would actually affect boss level mobs, but in lower level instances at the very least, it certainly applies. This talent is great. Your mainstays of Maul and Mangle can apply this debuff in stacks of two, reducing the target’s movement speed by 25% and attack speed by 10%. Sure, it only lasts for 12 seconds, but if you’re constantly reapplying Mangle and Maul, it never drops off. Compare this to a Warrior’s Thunder Clap at Level 80:

“Blasts nearby enemies increasing the time between their attacks by 10% for 30 sec. and doing 300 damage to them. Damage increased by attack power. This ability causes additional threat and will affect multiple targets.”

Although taking 3/3 Improved Thunder Clap blows IW out of the metaphorical water, Bears have essentially been provided with a single target Thunder Clap coupled with a Hamstring ability, something we never had before.

Everything else is a no-brainer. Berserk is especially awesome (when you remember that you have it), Feral Aggression is still mostly unnecessary, and we’ve also been granted the ability to use any item, potion, or stone while in any shapeshifted form. Things are almost looking up, but with Paladin and Warrior Protection trees growing increasingly more solid, it’s tempting to make the switch.

If you have any questions or just want to discuss what’s up, feel free to contact me.